November 9th, 2009
08:25 AM ET
11 years ago

Update: Lone GOP vote came after call from President Obama

Rep. Cao brought his daughter to a town-hall event last month that President Obama held in New Orleans.

Rep. Cao brought his daughter to a town-hall event last month that President Obama held in New Orleans.

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao was the only Republican to vote in favor of the Democratic health care bill that passed the House late Saturday, a vote that came after President Obama called to personally to ask for his support, Cao told CNN.

The president dialed the freshman congressman from Louisiana around noon on Saturday, hours before a vote on an amendment offered by anti-abortion Democrats that banned most abortion coverage from the public option and other insurance providers in the insurance "exchange" the legislation would create. That measure passed later in the evening.

Cao said he explained to the president he could not support the health care bill without the amendment, but said he would support the bill if the abortion measure passed. It was a sentiment he also expressed to House GOP leadership ahead of the vote, he said.

Earlier: I put needs of my district first, Cao says

The final vote came after several discussions about the bill with White House officials.

Cao, who hails from one of the most Democratic districts in the country, also asked the president for assurances that the administration would do more to help with ongoing disaster relief efforts in his New Orleans district, specifically by forgiving millions in disaster loans to the region.

By supporting the bill, Cao has opened himself up to criticism from other members of his party, but the Republican said his vote was the right decision for his constituents and "the right decision based on my conscience."

Last week, Republican National Committee Michael Steele warned GOP members of Congress that they will face tough consequences if they vote in favor of the health care bill.

"So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you're crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we'll come after you," Steele told ABC News.

Cao chuckled when asked about the comment and said he "would like to remind" Steele that he and other Republican leaders trumpeted Cao's upset win over Democrat William Jefferson last December as a symbol of party diversity. Cao is the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress.

"He has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican party would need," Cao told CNN.

Filed under: GOP • Health care • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Kim

    Thank you so much President Obama!!!

    November 8, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Cougar

    To all of the right-wingers who are so anti-govt:

    If you benefit from the post office, police and fire depts, public schools and universities, the military, medicare, social security, or hold govt. jobs or receive govt. pensions:

    Start walking your talk, and give up all of these services now.

    November 8, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Fitz in Texas

    So what "pork' did Obama promise you for your vote Congressman Cao?........soon to be ex-Congressman Cao.

    November 8, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Finch

    I think Representative Cao's district would respect him for doing the right thing for their interests rather than "hold the party line."

    It is about time some of these elected left the sand box behind and tried to live up to the necessity of statemanship this country so sorely needs from both its parties.

    November 8, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. John Ca

    The one lone gop vote was keeping America and want did the Pres. give up to make this Deal?

    November 8, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Patriot

    Rep. Cao is looking out for the PEOPLE–that is what our elected members of Congress are SUPPOSED TO DO! I hope Repubs AND Dems can learn from this man.

    November 8, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. craig atlanta

    How can it be legal for the president to promise to give millions of dollars in disaster relief money only if he gets a swing vote how can anyone legitamize buying a vote with the forgivence of a debt next thing you might hear is the president offering pardons to senators family members who might be in prison if they vote his way or to get a family member out of the military if they vote his way. Abuse of power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 8, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Sounds like he sold his soul to the devil. Payment on that will be painful and never ending.

    November 8, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. lasvegasrose

    It takes courage to stand up for your beliefs in life and go against the grain. Any fool can follow the presiding whims of his/her group. Congratulations Sir.

    November 8, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    I think Louisiana needs some help from our Govt. The Wealthy republicans ignored them after Katrina because New Orleans is mostly black and Democrat.

    The republicans in Florida all get big screen TVs after a hurricane, but not New Orleans (D). There's a problem still lingering, even tho Mr Haliburton and his puppet (W) are no longer in office.

    Give some federal aid to the poor, black, democrats. The wealthy white republicans don't need it – they get from insurance companies that denied claims.

    November 8, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. Pat F

    Watch this guy's career – after his voters boot his rear out of office in 2010, he'll get a nice, cushy job – probably with EEOC.

    Filthy traitor – peddled your butt to the highest bidder, eh?

    November 8, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. vic nashville , Tn

    I am glad this bill is pass because past 4 moths Fox was big nuisance

    Time for Fox to get over it

    November 8, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Tammy

    Are all of the complainers about this bill really that well off? How are they covering their and their families' health needs? What are their insurance costs? Is everything covered, or do they have pre-existing conditions (like breathing) that result in no coverage?

    November 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. gary

    Cnn you are pathetic.Do the republicans write all your stories for you. This network is so slanted towards the retard republicans its sad. You are always looking for a negative slant against OBAMA with every story.

    November 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. John

    Cao is from New Orleans, a heavily Democratic area. He won't be voted out, you can bet on that.

    Teabaggers dont live in that district in any real #s, so they'll have nothing to say about it.


    November 8, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Kim

    This goes to show that not all republicans only look out for businesses. Thank you Rep Joseph Cao!!!! Make sure you look behind your back because your Republican friends are crooks, liars and thieves. The republicans will do anything to stab you in the back. With that being said thank you, and thank you Mr. President for your hard work and determination.

    November 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. dhdunn

    we don't care what the GOP thinks, just shut up

    November 8, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. al boree

    Wow! A Republican who fears his constituents more then he fears Rush Limbaugh. This is one for the record books.

    November 8, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. zago

    Lone vote came after the democrats got the 218 they needed. This vote was not relevant. The gentleman voted after democrats were cheering when they reached 218. Had he voted in the first 5 mns when the votes were counting I would think of him being bona fide. However, voting after you see the bill is passed anyway does not make sense. He just voted this way to avoid political trouble for reelection in a district which is 70%+ democrat. That just a selfish political calculation to manipulate his electorate. NONSENSE!

    November 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Mike Warner

    He doesnt have to worry about people voting him out of office because he represents a majority of democrats. It's high time that republicans started serving the peoples needs in thier communities instead of worrying about how to spin everything so they can get back in power where the REAL money is.

    November 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. ames

    How is this even remotely slanted against Obama, may I ask?

    November 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. Patrick Taylor

    Wow! A congressional representative who focuses on the needs of his constituents more than the desires of his party? I'm a Democrat, but I'd vote for him because that is the single most important principle ALL politicians should be following FIRST!

    November 8, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. Sal

    Finally, a Republican who thinks for himself. Thank you Representative Cao. And thank you President Obama for trying to make certain that all Americans have access to health care.

    November 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. RonC

    We need lots more that stand for what they believe in rather than kowtow to Party Politics.
    There are many more that would have voted Yea if it were known. The "I'm a member of this and that" party which is not what the people want from them.

    November 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Hennessy Black, Racine, WI

    We spend or will spend well over 3 TRILLION dollars on (2) totally unnecessary wars... and both the Dems and the party of NO have such huge problems with passing a 1 TRILLION dollar Health Reform Bill that would benefit ALL Americans by providing better Health Care [for ALL] and create jobs as well... What's wrong with this picture?

    I am proposing a bill that would sell the Vatican and take away the TAX EXEMPT STATUS for ALL RELIGIONS: IF you want to PLAY around in politics, then you have to PAY!

    November 8, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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